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The differences between “us” and “them”

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Since taking over the Missourinet Blog I have taken a greater interest in the blogosphere than I had in the past. I realize that everybody and his brother now has a blog … with some of these blogs read by many and others read by just a few. Some blogs are influential while others are of little interest to anybody. But let’s face it … many of the political blogs are both interesting and fun to read.

When I use the term "political blogs" I am not referring to members of the mainstream media (MSM) who keep track of political goings-on and offer readers political tid bits that are picked up here and there. Blogs written by Jo Mannies in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch … or columnists contributing to the Kansas City Star’s Prime Buzz … or Jason Rosenbaum in the Columbia Daily Tribune are both informative and entertaining.

The "political blogs" to which I refer are those written by agenda-driven individuals who are sometimes accidentally inaccurate … and at other times intentionally dishonest. It is important for readers of these blogs to keep in mind that the writer is not trying to inform you as much as he or she is trying to get you to "swallow the Kool-Aid" and see things his or her way.

Readers must be aware that while the MSM bloggers represent their media outlets and, therefore, must be truthful and accurate … the vast majority of the political bloggers are unaccountable … and sometimes fall short of telling "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Missouri has a number of political blogs and, for the most part, these blogs – though one-sided – are accurate in their reporting. It’s a fair assumption that many of Missouri’s MSM journalists read the Source or Missouri Pulse for a right wing perspective on the news … and Fired-Up! Missouri to get the left wing perspective on things. It is important, however, for the casual reader to keep in mind that the Source and Missouri Pulse will rarely, if ever, say anything positive about a Democrat or negative about a Republican … and Fired Up! Missouri will only say things to make Democrats look good and Republicans look bad.

What prompted this essay on the blogosphere is a good example of the lack of accountability and how readers must be skeptical of things they read on the web. Late last week the left wing blog Think Progress published what it called an "exclusive" regarding presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain. It claimed McCain had plagiarized a 1996 speech given by Admiral Timothy Ziemer. Problem is … Think Progress never contacted the McCain folks for verification or at least to get a comment. It just put out the story … which turned out to be false … as McCain had given the speech in 1995! If anything, it was Admiral Ziemer who had borrowed from McCain.

To its credit, Think Progress has issued a retraction and has apologized for its mistake. But this should not have happened in the first place.

This is not to say that the MSM won’t make mistakes from time to time. We are well aware of the problems encountered by Dan Rather and CBS when the George Bush-National Guard story – based in large part on forged documents – was run. But this is the exception.

Had anyone in the Post-Dispatch, KC Star, Columbia Tribune, or Missourinet newsroom been given a "tip" of any kind … that "tip" would have been thoroughly verified to ensure its accuracy. We are accountable and have reputations to uphold … while most in the political blogosphere are accountable to no one. And that, folks, is the difference between "us" and "them."

– Steve Walsh

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Written by learfield

March 31, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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